The key to sustainability is acknowledging and considering the three legs of sustainability: society, environment, and economic. Walmart fails in at least two of these categories. I will consider giving them economic. They have a business plan to keep their business running and not go bankrupt. While that plan includes opening more stores to increase profits, and forcing manufacturers and suppliers to lower their prices to keep Walmart’s costs down; it is a plan that has been working for them so far.
Then there are the two other important factors to consider: environment and society. Let’s talk about the social aspect first. Walmart fails in this leg on all accounts. They treat their own workers terribly with awful benefits, long hours, and poor wages. They also force their suppliers to treat their employees in the same fashion, by refusing to buy products unless they are at extremely low prices. Walmart does its best to keep costs down to make their pockets happy and consumers’ pocket’s happy. They also fail with the social leg because when they open a new store (despite protests) they often run other businesses out. This causes other people to suffer since they lose their jobs and businesses.
What I really want to discuss is how Walmart fails at the environment leg. Walmart likes to green wash and spout off facts of they will do as a company to become sustainable. Their three goals are :
- To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy
- To create zero waste
- To sell products that sustain people and the environment
My biggest issue is number three. How is this ever going to be possible when they promote sweatshops in China currently. With them wanting to keep their prices as low as possible, how are they ever going to reach that goal? Walmart claims they support local farmers, but this support usually means the farmers lose money and Walmart gains. Remember how they lack in the social leg. Walmart still thinks they can help fix our food system with their ‘support’ for local farmers and solving the food desert issue. As usual their food desert solution is making more money off of the urban market, a market they have yet to fully tap into and are so desperate to.
Walmart needs to learn what sustainability actually means and that it is more complicated than partially considering environmental factors. Sometimes you can be lacking in an area of sustainability as long as the other two parts make up for the loss. Walmart is lacking in 2.5 of the three part and they are in no way sustainable. If they want to be sustainable they have a long way to go and massive business plans to be revamped. In fact, if Walmart actually became a truly sustainable company they would in no way be the same company.